The Arizona election audit* will falsely claim Trump won the state. That is the point of no return for America.

You knew the plan all along, or should have. Arizona Republicans hired a company called Crazy Ninjas (officially Cyber Ninjas) to lead an audit* of the Maricopa County, Arizona ballots. Incompetent and partisan, they have worked chaotically and as much as possible in secret. When it is over, they will declare Trump the winner in Arizona. What choice do they have?

That declaration would carry no official weight, as the Arizona election has been officially certified. But that wouldn’t matter. Republicans in other states would use this as proof of their claim that the election had been stolen, and insist that their states should pursue the same type of audit*. Millions of Trump supporters who had been screaming “Stop the steal!”, accompanied by an invasion of the U.S. Capitol, would now scream “We were right!”

And that would be it. No turning back.

When lying and cheating no longer matter at all, not even a little, what’s to stop liars and cheaters? You might say that lying and cheating have been in grand style since the previous president took office, and you’d be right. But there was hollow hope that once he was stripped of his powers, official America would resume the status quo ante.

No. When the Arizona audit* issues its false finding, every American election will be vulnerable to a charge (without evidence) that it is fraudulent. Many of the new voter suppression bills just passed remove final election determination from the officials who have traditionally performed that sworn function (Secretaries of State, Supervisors of Elections, etc.) to the state legislatures. Those legislatures could change the election results, based on their own investigation* and on audits* conducted by companies like Crazy Ninjas.

It would be so heartening, so democracy-affirming, if none of this happened. But all this talk of Trump’s “reinstatement” (not an actual constitutional thing) says that Trump Republicans are thinking about just such a future.